Former Military Pilots Demand Defense Secretary’s Resignation

( – The MACH 1 Caucus, a congressional coalition of former military pilots, is demanding Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin be dismissed immediately or resign after he kept his hospitalization a secret from Congress and the Biden administration.

On Jan. 9, the MACH 1 Caucus sent President Joe Biden a letter saying Austin should be dismissed or resign for his “serious lapse in judgment” and his “violation of the Pentagon’s Principles of Information.” The letter also demanded any staff members involved in covering up Austin’s hospitalization resign or be dismissed.

Former military pilots and Republicans California Rep. Mike Garcia, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, Florida Rep. Scott Franklin and Texas Rep. Jake Ellzey comprise the caucus, which was formed in February 2022 to educate members of Congress on military pilot-related issues and advocate for fighter pilots.

The letter was spearheaded by Pfluger, who called it “a complete dereliction of duty” that Austin was hospitalized for days without Biden’s knowledge. He said Austin weakened the military “by abdicating his post without properly appointing a proxy” or by notifying the appropriate people.

The calls for Austin to resign follow the Pentagon revealing on Jan. 5 that Austin had been hospitalized on Jan. 1 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington. The Department of Defense was aware of Austin’s hospitalization, though nobody else, including Biden, his deputy Kathleen Hicks, or the leaders of the National Security Council and Pentagon, were aware. Austin ranks just below Biden in the U.S. military chain of command and must be available at any time in order to respond to a national security crisis.

On Jan. 9, it was revealed that Austin was admitted Jan. 1 to the ICU after developing a urinary tract infection related to a prostatectomy he underwent in late December following a prostate diagnosis.

The Mach 1 Caucus is not the first to call for Austin to resign or be dismissed following news of his secret hospitalization on Jan. 5. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and former President Donald Trump have called for Austin to resign.

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